Australian anti-immigrant lawmaker dons burqa during Senate meeting | News | DW | 17.08.2017
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Australian anti-immigrant lawmaker dons burqa during Senate meeting

Pauline Hanson, the leader of Australia's anti-immigration One Nation party, has provoked outrage from fellow lawmakers by wearing a burqa in parliament. The stunt was part of her campaign to ban Muslim full-face covers.

The leader of Australia's far-right One Nation party, Pauline Hanson, sat in the Senate Thursday morning, covered by a black head-to-ankle burqa for almost 20 minutes before arguing that such garments should be banned on national security grounds.

"I'm quite happy to remove this because this is not what should belong in this parliament," Hanson told the Senate. "If a person who wears a balaclava or a helmet to a bank or any other building, or even on the floor of the court, they must be removed. Why is it not the same case for someone who is covering up their face and cannot be identified?"

However, the One Nation leader's stunt and words drew immediate ire from fellow lawmakers.

Read more: Bundestag bans face veils for civil servants amid security measures

Australia's attorney general, George Brandis of the Liberal Party, drew applause from across the chamber when he doubled down on his government's decision not to ban the garment. Hanson's "stunt" was deeply offensive to the country's Muslim community, Brandis said, adding: "To ridicule that community, to drive it into a corner, to mock its religious garments is an appalling thing to do, and I would ask you to reflect on what you have done."

Australia Pauline Hanson wearing burqa (picture alliance/AP Photo/L. Coch/AAP Image)

The burqa was part of far-right leader Pauline Hanson's bid to ban the Muslim garment

Meanwhile, Senate opposition leader Penny Wong told Hanson: "It is one thing to wear religious dress as a sincere act of faith; it is another to wear it as a stunt here in the Senate," while Iranian born Sam Dastyari pointed out that "the close to 500,000 Muslim Australians do not deserve to be targeted, do not deserve to be marginalized, do not deserve to be ridiculed, do not deserve to have their faith made some political point by the desperate leader of a desperate political party."

Read more: Survey: Germans want a burqa ban

On social media, Green party lawmakers Adam Brandt and Sarah Hanson-Young took to Twitter to rebuke Hanson's actions.

Despite drawing rebuke from across the political spectrum, Hanson appeared unrepentant following her stunt, telling commercial radio: "Is it extreme? Yes. Is it getting my message across? I hope so."

Hanson first rose to prominence in Australian politics in the 1990s when she warned that the country risked being "swamped by Asians." In recent years, her party's attention has shifted its focus on Muslim immigration, Islamic clothing and the construction of mosques.

The One Nation party has four senators, which gives the party influence over closely contested issues, albeit little else.

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Burqa ‘opposite to open society’

dm/kms (AP, Reuters)

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